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Why your AS-level grades still really matter

Collected your AS results and wondering just how important they are to your A-level and university prospects? You're in the right place.

While changes to the structure of A-levels over the past couple of years have 'decoupled' AS from A-level qualifications, your AS results are still a good indication of your academic progress, which universities and tutors will be keen to see.

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How things used to be...

Before the A-level reforms, both your AS and A2 years contributed towards your overall A-level grade. That meant you could "bank" marks from your AS year, which is generally considered easier than A2.

Plus, in Year 12 you don't have as many distractions as you do in Year 13, when you're busy applying to university on top of everything else. Heading into Year 13 knowing a substantial part of the work was done, took some pressure off.

However under the current A-level system, your AS-levels no longer have any impact on your final A-level grade. Instead, this final grade is decided by exams taken at the end of Year 13 only.

In fact going forward, exams will be the preferred method of assessment for A-level students over coursework, which will be less frequent. There will be no more January exams, plus AS and A2 will no longer be separated into modules; any exams you do have at the end of your AS year will be independent of your overall A-level mark.

So under the current A-level structure your AS grades no longer matter, right? Wrong...

Why AS-levels still matter

There are two key reasons why AS-levels are still important:

1. Unis will see your AS grades

You’ll probably also have to declare your AS grades on Ucas Apply – and these may influence a university’s decision to offer you a place or not. After all, your AS grades will be the most recent hard-and-fast, exam-based evidence an admission tutor will have to go on. 

The grade for the AS-level you dropped at the end of Year 12 will also be available for them to see. If a special circumstance meant you weren’t able to achieve your full AS potential, however, your teacher can mention this in the reference provided in your Ucas application.

Some schools, however, won't ‘cash-in’ your AS grades until later in the process. If this is the case in your school it's something a teacher can also include in their reference on your Ucas application.

The importance of your GCSE grades may also increase as universities look to these too.

Plus they can be great preparation for that all-important Year 13, when everything counts! 

2. Your results will shape your predicted A-level grades

Your teachers will set your predicted A-level grades with your AS performance in mind. Given that the A2 year is more difficult, it's unrealistic to expect them to predict grades that are significantly higher. Find out what your predicted grades are before you make your final university course choices.

Before you've got your A-level predictions, match your actual achieved AS grades to the entry requirements of the universities you are interested in applying to. Be realistic and consider options with both slightly higher and lower grades to make sure you’ve got a good mix of courses to make your final choices from.

SEARCH FOR COURSES BY PREDICTED GRADES: filters courses by A-level grades, Scottish Highers or Ucas points. 

A-LEVEL CHECKLISTS BY DEGREE SUBJECT: find out which A-levels you need for the degree you want to study. 

Taking an 'old style' A-level still?

Changes to A-levels are still being rolled out across subjects, which means you might still be taking subjects that haven't yet made the switch, including maths, media studies, law and accounting.

In the case of subjects which haven't gone through reforms yet, your AS-level performance will count towards your final A-level grade (plus be used by universities and shape your predicted grades, as outlined above).

Our guide to the reforms in A-levels outlines when each subject will switch to the new structure.


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